preserving: brandied fig jam

[28 Sep 2010 | By | 16 Comments]

fig jam

Oh baby.
(I had always wanted to become adept at canning, but had never taken the time).

It all started when… five flats of figs landed on my doorstep. You see, the California Fig Commission contacted me and asked if I would like some figs. Yes please! I never turn down food. I fig-ured they would send me a nice little pint or two. We arranged a time, the delivery man showed and before I knew it: there were five flats of figs nestled against my front door. And in case you didn’t know—fresh figs have a shelf-life of about 2 minutes. I could hardly consume a handful [let alone a box] of them during this small window of ‘just-picked, perfectly plumped prime.’

Really the only thing I could do was: start canning.

And so it began. And my whole kitchen was sticky—with canning gadgets and aprons flying—and fruit flies in full applause. Because there were so many figs, I decided to sample a handful of different recipes and start finding a new favorite. Besides, I had a lot to learn about ratios and pectin and boiling-water-baths. So I made cinnamon jam, roasted grape and balsamic chutney, ‘standard’ instructions-from-the-pectin box fig jam and brandied fig jam. Twice.

There are so many varieties of figs, much to learn about preserving seasonal produce and well, I am loving this current culinary feat. I’m all in. Even if it means an all-day affair where I am wrestling lids, sanitizing every piece of equipment, with feet sticking to the floor and less than perfect results. Its so worth it. (And can I mention: WAY better than store-bought jam).

Because when it was all said and done—and the jars were boiling away—my pride was swelling. I am now a bonafide home canner. And nothing is sweeter than walking through the kitchen an hour later and hearing the ‘plunk’ ‘plunk’ of lids sealing themselves for safe waiting on my pantry shelves. And now I have a favorite fig jam recipe: Brandied Fig Jam—which pairs brilliantly with a smear of goat cheese on the nearest cracker.

cut up figs

Brandied Fig Jam
fills about 6 half pint jars; adopted from Epicurious.

2 lemons
4 pounds ripe fresh figs, roughly chopped (about 9 cups)
4 cups sugar
3/4 cups brandy
1/2 tsp coarse salt

Zest lemons. Combine zest, figs, brandy and salt in heavy large saucepan. Let stand at room temp for an hour; stir occasionally. Bring to boil, stirring to dissolve sugar. Reduce to medium and continue hard simmer to thicken jam, stirring and smooshing as desired 30-45 min. Remove from heat.

Ladle into sterilized, hot glass canning jars to 1/4 inch from top. Wipe rims clean with wet paper towel. Cover with hot lids; apply screw bands. Process in boiling water bath 10 minutes. Cool completely. Listen for the musical ‘ping’ of them sealing as you walk through the kitchen.

Note: I made 4 different types of fig jams and chutneys. While they are all good—this one is my favorite. It is SO versatile: the first time I made it with 8 cups Kadota figs and 1 cup Black Mission figs. The second batch I called Mixed Fig Jam because it really was an amalgamation of all the figs I had left: 1 cup Mission, 4 cups Calmyrna and 4 cups Sierra figs.

We were invited to a friends for dinner, and I asked what I should bring. She said: your fig jam, please. And we had it for dessert with really fun nut and raisin crackers and Humbolt Fog [blue] Cheese. OMG good.

fig jam

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  • Gabrielle @ i.gourmet said (29 September 2010 at 6:55 pm):

    wow, that is beautiful! I voted for you too! Thanks for your comment and vote!

  • pamela said (29 September 2010 at 8:39 pm):

    i don’t see an amount of sugar listed?

  • maggie said (29 September 2010 at 8:46 pm):

    This looks SO tasty!

  • ISI pro tongs | Talk of Tomatoes said (30 September 2010 at 2:29 pm):

    […] talking « Jarring: Brandied Fig Jam […]

  • janelle (author) said (30 September 2010 at 2:32 pm):

    Gabrielle: thank you!
    Pamela: so appreciate the tip—just updated post.
    Maggie: It is;))).

  • Apple Thyme Jelly | Talk of Tomatoes said (8 October 2010 at 10:00 am):

    […] have been canning and preserving for a few weeks now—ever since 5 flats of figs landed on my doorstep. My most recent jars are full of Apple Thyme Jelly from the Herbfarm Cookbook. Now page 303 is […]

  • cheese-filled, bacon-wrapped figs | Talk of Tomatoes said (14 October 2010 at 9:52 am):

    […] was the year that I fell in love with figs. I made mixed fig jam, roasted grape balsamic and fig chutney, cinnamon fig jam and cheese-stuffed figs wrapped in bacon. […]

  • heather said (15 October 2010 at 1:17 pm):

    Just scored some gorgeous figs myself (easier said than done here in the Northeast). I’m sure your recipe is quite tasty, but the one thing I wanted to point out is that it may not be 100% safe for boiling water canning. Figs are a low-acid fruit, so most canning recipes for fig jam should include some lemon juice, or better yet, bottled lemon juice to assure the appropriate pH balance. The ones I’ve been working with have tended to include about 1/4 cup lemon juice per 2lbs of fruit, plus 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar. Maybe the brandy is standing in as the chief preservative here? Anyway, just passing on the knowledge. Happy canning!

  • janelle (author) said (16 October 2010 at 6:26 pm):

    Heather: ooohhh—thanks. It was a recipe from Epicurious (I only changed fig varieties, not other ratios) and I think you are right: its the brandy? BUT I am curious if there is a contraption of some kind where I can consistently check the PH… do you know of any?? I have been wondering about this!

  • Thanks for the samples! | Talk of Tomatoes said (4 November 2010 at 1:51 pm):

    […] Ivars tartar with Lemon Zest: I actually make my own tartar. Just like I make my own fig jam, mayonnaise, red sauce, etc.— it makes it a tad trickier to grab for the store-bought […]

  • Black Rose Tattoo said (16 April 2011 at 12:38 pm):

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  • rum plum cardamom jam. | Talk of Tomatoes said (18 September 2011 at 10:26 pm):

    […] and jam. What to add with what? What fruit goes with what liquor? I always get raves about my brandied fig jam, so when the Washington State Fruit Commission made me a ‘CANbassador’ and shipped me […]

  • Talk of Tomatoes | 12 Days of Christmas: 12 Easy Appetizers said (15 December 2011 at 8:39 pm):

    […] my own preserves, but you can buy fantastic jams too! Ideas: red pepper jelly with goat cheese, brandied fig jam with blue cheese, peach salsa with Manchego, Parmesan with Chianti […]

  • Talk of Tomatoes | Peach, Plum & Ginger Compote said (19 February 2012 at 4:39 pm):

    […] ‘must-make’ preserves: 1. strawberry jam, 2. peach plum ginger compote (pictured), 3. brandied fig jam and 4. red pepper […]

  • Talk of Tomatoes | American Lamb Pro-Am: what to do with a leg of lamb? said (20 August 2012 at 4:35 pm):

    […] have been holed up in my kitchen for weeks canning jams and chutneys, processing tomatoes and rhubarb, liquoring up peaches and braiding garlic. So […]

  • Fleur said (20 February 2013 at 5:02 am):

    Hi thanks for recipe. I have tried three. One from the DSG recipe book (old South African book) suggests soaking in salt overnight. I will write the recipe out and you can try it. It is quite an effort but the result is interesting. Delicious with cottage/cream cheese on savoury biscuits or melba toast. cheers Fleur